ATKINSON - Following a long tradition of almost 20 years, The
Fireside Theatre opened its popular Christmas show “A
Fireside Christmas” on Oct. 31. Last year’s offering of
“Scrooge the Musical” did not follow the usual pattern,
but this year it has returned with its tried and true offering
of songs, dances and folk tales, all gorgeously costumed,
choreographed and executed.
that audiences never tire of traditional Christmas fare, but
they also like some tunes or stories they’ve never heard
before. The Fireside is good at providing the mix of old and
new, sacred and secular, serious and humorous. With the cadre
of talent they have garnered, each number is sure to please.
opening number, “Carol of the Bells,” immediately makes
one aware of the lovely voices that will dazzle us throughout
the show. Though we’ve all heard this carol many times, the
vigorous arrangement is definitely different. Many a tune
takes on a new flavor, which surprises and delights us.
traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” is the cleverest of
the offerings as performers Bianca Denis and Kate Cherichello
respond to their beaux as they receive each subsequent gift.
Once one gets past the birds of many ilks and the five golden
rings, the number of maids a milking, lords a leaping, pipers
piping and drummers drumming gets out of hand, and the grand
suitors lose their ladies.
This literal exposure is quite amusing.
children also perform in the show - Megire and KyLee Hennes,
Natalie Hershman, Allison Beneker, Dylan Garza, Kahler Thiele
and Shania Woods - some on alternate days. Children always add
their special touch to a show, especially one about Christmas,
since this feast day figures so strongly into their dreams.
They were prominent in “A Crackerjack Christmas Medley,”
the tale of “The Magical Icicle Tree” and “The Best
Hawes aces his usual narrator position, transitioning between
numbers and giving a moving rendition of “‘Twas the Night
before Christmas.” He even involves several audience members
in a short game of Christmas trivia. Hawes is very natural and
likeable, and the perfect host.
the female soloists - Laura Black, Kate Cherichello, Taylor
Coriell and Bianca Denis - are more than competent, I was
especially moved by several of the male voices this time. When
the four of them - Derek Bastherner, Carl Hudden, Courtney
Love and Mathew Schwartz - performed “The First Noel” as a
quartet, I was blown away. Derek Bastherner, a newcomer to
Fireside, and Carl Hudden have especially affecting voices.
of eight dancers offers color and movement to many of the
tunes, but the solo dance of the angel in the Christmas
pageant is especially gracefully rendered by Danielle Fuhrmann.
The other dancers include Courtney Cerny, Meredith Miller
Higgins, Catherine Wolfson, Robb Gibbs, Terrance Martin, Mario
Martinez and Doug Reed, who has performed 101 shows with the
Fireside over the last 25 years. He’s almost as much of a
fixture there as director Ed Flesch.
show’s closing number, “O Holy Night,” features soloist
Taylor Coriell, a stunning soprano, who is joined by the
entire entourage for a roof-raising rendition of this dramatic
hymn. A standing ovation follows.
scenes making it all happen are Mary Ehlinger (musical
director), Kate Swan (choreographer) Robin Buerger (costume
designer), Rick A. Rasmussen (scenic designer), Jason Fassl
(lighting designer) and the omnipresent artistic director
Flesch, who has been responsible for the high- quality shows
at Fireside for more than 35 years.
want to get in the Christmas mood before the rush is upon us,
take a drive to Fort Atkinson to relish a lovely meal, a
scintillating show and an array of shops to peruse. You’ll
be glad you did.
Fireside Christmas” runs through Dec. 22 at the Fireside
Dinner Theatre, 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. Call
800-477-9505 for tickets or visit www.firesidetheatre.com.
Gift cards are also available for any of the upcoming shows in
the 2013-2014 season.